Sculpture  

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Illustration: Laocoön and His Sons ("Clamores horrendos" detail), photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen.
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Illustration: Laocoön and His Sons ("Clamores horrendos" detail), photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A sculpture is a three-dimensional object, which for the purposes of this object is man-made and selected for special recognition as art. A person who creates sculpture is called a sculptor.

Contents

History

Europe

The earliest European sculpture to date portrays a female form (Venus of Hohle Fels), and has been estimated at dating from 35,000 years ago. The discovery in 2008 has caused experts to revise the history of the development of art.

Greek-Roman-classical

Features unique to the European Classical tradition:

  1. full figures: using the young, athletic male or full-bodied female nude
  2. portraits: showing signs of age and strong character
  3. use of classical costume and attributes of classical deities
  4. Concern for naturalism based on observation, often from live models

Features that the European Classical tradition shares with many others:

  1. characters present an attitude of distance and inner contentment
  2. details do not disrupt a sense of rhythm between solid volumes and the spaces that surround them
  3. pieces feel solid and larger than they really are
  4. ambient space feels sacred or timeless

The topic of Nudity

An unadorned figure in Greek classical sculpture was a reference to the status or role of the depicted person, deity, or other being. Athletes, priestesses, and deities could be identified by their adornment or lack of it.

The Renaissance preoccupation with Greek classical imagery, such as the 5th century BC. Doryphoros of Polykleitos, led to nude figurative statues being seen as the 'perfect form' of representation for the human body. Subsequently, nudity in sculpture and painting often has represented a form of ideal, be it innocence, openness, or purity. Nude sculptures still are common. As in painting, they often are made as exercises in efforts to understand the anatomical structure of the human body and develop skills that will provide a foundation for making clothed figurative work.

Usually, nude statues are widely accepted by many societies, largely due to the length of tradition that supports this form. Occasionally, the nude form draws objections, often by moral or religious groups. Classic examples of this are the removal of the parts of Greek sculpture representing male genitals (in the Vatican collection), and the addition of a fig leaf to a plaster cast of Michelangelo's sculpture of David for Queen Victoria's visit to the British Museum.

Gothic

Gothic sculpture evolved from the early stiff and elongated style, still partly Romanesque, into a spatial and naturalistic feel in the late 12th and early 13th century. The architectural statues at the Western (Royal) Portal at Chartres Cathedral (c. 1145) are the earliest Gothic sculptures and were a revolution in style and the model for a generation of sculptors. Prior to this there had been no sculpture tradition in Ile-de-France—so sculptors were brought in from Burgundy. Bamberg Cathedral had the largest assemblage of 13th century sculpture. In England sculpture was more confined to tombs and non-figurine decorations. In Italy there was still a Classical influence, but Gothic made inroads in the sculptures of pulpits such as the Pisa Baptistery pulpit (1260) and the Siena pulpit (1268). Dutch-Burgundian sculptor Claus Sluter and the taste for naturalism signaled the beginning of the end of Gothic sculpture, evolving into the classicistic Renaissance style by the end of the 15th century.

Renaissance

Although the Renaissance began at different times in various parts of Europe (some areas created art longer in the Gothic style than other areas) the transition from Gothic to Renaissance in Italy was signalled by a trend toward naturalism with a nod to classical sculpture. One of the most important sculptors in the classical revival was Donatello. The greatest achievement of what art historians refer to as his classic period is the bronze statue entitled David (not to be confused with Michelangelo's David), which is currently located at the Bargello in Florence. At the time of its creation, it was the first free-standing nude statue since ancient times. Conceived fully in the round and independent of any architectural surroundings, it is generally considered to be the first major work of Renaissance sculpture. The movement affected all aspects of art, in all parts of Italy; as represented by the conscious revival from archaeological sources of the Antique dining table, by the great sculptor Tullio Lombardo, for the Castello di Roncade in the Veneto (the house with the first free-standing pediment since antiquity.)

During the main Renaissance, the time from about 1500 to 1520, Michelangelo was an active sculptor with works such as David and the Pietà, as well as the Doni Virgin, Bacchus, Moses, Rachel, Orgetorix, and members of the Medici family. Michelangelo's David is possibly the most famous sculpture in the world, which was unveiled on September 8, 1504. It is an example of the contrapposto style of posing the human figure, which again borrows from classical sculpture. Michelangelo's statue of David differs from previous representations of the subject in that David is depicted before his battle with Goliath and not after the giant's defeat. Instead of being shown victorious over a foe much larger than he, David looks tense and battle ready.

Mannerist

During the Mannerist period, more abstract representations were praised, (such as the "figura serpentinata" or "twisted figure") giving more thought to color and composition rather than realistic portrayal of the subjects in the piece. This is exemplified in Giambologna's Abduction/Rape of the Sabine Women, where the figures are not positioned in a way which is at all comfortable, or even humanly possible, but the position and emotion still come across. Another exemplar of the form is Benvenuto Cellini's 1540 salt cellar of gold and ebony, featuring Neptune and Amphitrite (earth and water) in elongated form and uncomfortable positions (implausible poses).

Baroque

In Baroque sculpture, groups of figures assumed new importance, and there was a dynamic movement and energy of human forms— they spiralled around an empty central vortex, or reached outwards into the surrounding space. For the first time, Baroque sculpture often had multiple ideal viewing angles. The characteristic Baroque sculpture added extra-sculptural elements, for example, concealed lighting, or water fountains. Often, Baroque artists fused sculpture and architecture seeking to create a transformative experience for the viewer. Gian Lorenzo Bernini was undoubtedly the most important sculptor of the Baroque period. His works were inspired by the Hellenistic sculptures of Ancient Greece and Imperial Rome. One of his most famous works is The Ecstasy of St Theresa (1647–1652).

Neo-Classical

The Neoclassical period (c.1750-1850) was one of the great ages of public sculpture, though its "classical" prototypes were more likely to be Roman copies of Hellenistic sculptures. In sculpture, the most familiar representatives are the Italian Antonio Canova, the Englishman John Flaxman and the Dane Bertel Thorvaldsen. The European neoclassical manner also took hold in the United States, where its pinnacle occurred somewhat later and is exemplified in the sculptures of Hiram Powers.

Modern Classicism

Modern Classicism contrasted in many ways with the classical sculpture of the 19th century which was characterized by commitments to naturalism (Antoine-Louis Barye) -- the melodramatic (François Rude) sentimentality (Jean Baptiste Carpeaux)-- or a kind of stately grandiosity (Lord Leighton). Several different directions in the classical tradition were taken as the century turned, but the study of the live model and the post-Renaissance tradition was still fundamental to them.

Auguste Rodin was the most renowned European sculptor of the early 20th century. He is often considered a sculptural Impressionist, as are his students Camille Claudel, Medardo Rosso, Paolo Troubetzkoy, Rik Wouters, and Hugo Rheinhold, attempting to model of a fleeting moment of ordinary life.

Modern Classicism showed a lesser interest in naturalism and a greater interest in formal stylization. Greater attention was paid to the rhythms of volumes and spaces - as well as greater attention to the contrasting qualities of surface (open, closed, planar, broken etc.) while less attention was paid to story-telling and convincing details of anatomy or costume. Greater attention was given to psychological effect than to physical realism. Greater attention was given to showing what was eternal and public, rather than what was momentary and private. Greater attention was given to examples of ancient and Medieval sacred arts:Egyptian, Middle Eastern, Asian, African, and Meso-American. Grandiosity was still a concern, but in a broader, more worldwide context.

Early masters of modern classicism included: Aristide Maillol, Alexander Matveyev, Joseph Bernard, Antoine Bourdelle, Georg Kolbe, Libero Andreotti, Gustav Vigeland, Jan Stursa, Constantin Brâncuşi.

As the century progressed, modern classicism was adopted as the national style of the two great European totalitarian empires: Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, who co-opted the work of earlier artists such as Kolbe and Wilhelm Lehmbruck in Germany and Matveyev in Russia. Nazi Germany had a 12-year run; but over the 70 years of the USSR, new generations of sculptors were trained and chosen within their system, and a distinct style, socialist realism, developed, that returned to the 19th century's emphasis on melodrama and naturalism.

Classical training was rooted out of art education in Western Europe (and the Americas) by 1970 and the classical variants of the 20th century were marginalized in the history of modernism. But classicism continued as the foundation of art education in the Soviet academies until 1990, providing a foundation for expressive figurative art throughout eastern Europe and parts of the Middle East. By the year 2000, the European classical tradition maintains a wide appeal to viewers - especially tourists - and especially for the ancient, Renaissance, Baroque, and 19th century periods—but awaits an educational tradition to revive its contemporary development.

In the rest of Europe, and the United States the modern classical became either more decorative/art deco (Paul Manship, Jose de Creeft, Carl Milles) or more abstractly stylized or more expressive (and Gothic) (Anton Hanak, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Ernst Barlach, Arturo Martini) -- or turned more to the Renaissance (Giacomo Manzù, Venanzo Crocetti) or stayed the same (Charles Despiau, Marcel Gimond).

Modernism

Modernist sculpture movements include Cubism, Geometric abstraction, De Stijl, Suprematism, Constructivism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Futurism, Formalism Abstract expressionism, Pop-Art, Minimalism, Land art, and Installation art among others.

In the early days of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso revolutionized the art of sculpture when he began creating his constructions fashioned by combining disparate objects and materials into one constructed piece of sculpture. Picasso reinvented the art of sculpture with his innovative use of constructing a work in three dimensions with disparate material. Just as collage was a radical development in two dimensional art; so was construction a radical development in three dimensional sculpture. The advent of Surrealism led to things occasionally being described as "sculpture" that would not have been so previously, such as "involuntary sculpture" in several senses, including coulage. In later years Pablo Picasso became a prolific ceramicist and potter, revolutionizing the way Ceramic art is perceived. George E. Ohr and more contemporary sculptors like Peter Voulkos, Kenneth Price, Robert Arneson, and George Segal and others have effectively used ceramics as an important integral medium for their work.

Similarly, the work of Constantin Brâncuşi at the beginning of the century paved the way for later abstract sculpture. In revolt against the naturalism of Rodin and his late 19th century contemporaries, Brâncuşi distilled subjects down to their essences as illustrated by his Bird in Space (1924) series. These elegantly refined forms became synonymous with 20th century sculpture. In 1927, Brâncuşi won a lawsuit against the U.S. customs authorities who attempted to value his sculpture as raw metal. The suit led to legal changes permitting the importation of abstract art free of duty.

Brâncuşi's impact, with his vocabulary of reduction and abstraction, is seen throughout the 1930s and 1940s, and exemplified by artists such as Gaston Lachaise, Sir Jacob Epstein, Henry Moore, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró, Julio González, Pablo Serrano, Jacques Lipchitz and later in the century by Carl Andre and John Safer who added motion and monumentality to the theme of purity of line.

Since the 1950s Modernist trends in sculpture both abstract and figurative have dominated the public imagination and the popularity of Modernist sculpture had sidelined the traditional approach. Picasso was commissioned to make a maquette for a huge Template:Convert-high public sculpture to be built in Chicago, known usually as the Chicago Picasso. He approached the project with a great deal of enthusiasm, designing a sculpture which was ambiguous and somewhat controversial. What the figure represents is not known; it could be a bird, a horse, a woman or a totally abstract shape. The sculpture, one of the most recognizable landmarks in downtown Chicago, was unveiled in 1967. Picasso refused to be paid $100,000 for it, donating it to the people of the city.

During the late 1950s and the 1960s abstract sculptors began experimenting with a wide array of new materials and different approaches to creating their work. Surrealist imagery, anthropomorphic abstraction, new materials and combinations of new energy sources and varied surfaces and objects became characteristic of much new modernist sculpture. Collaborative projects with landscape designers, architects, and landscape architects expanded the outdoor site and contextual integration.

Artists such as Isamu Noguchi, David Smith, Alexander Calder, Jean Tinguely, Richard Lippold, George Rickey, Louise Bourgeois and Louise Nevelson came to characterize the look of modern sculpture., and the Minimalist works by Tony Smith, Robert Morris, Donald Judd, Larry Bell, Anne Truitt, Giacomo Benevelli, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Richard Serra, Dan Flavin and others led contemporary abstract sculpture in new directions.

By the 1960s Abstract expressionism, Geometric abstraction and Minimalism predominated. Some works of the period are: the Cubi works of David Smith, and the welded steel works of Sir Anthony Caro, the large scale work of John Chamberlain, and environmental installation scale works by Mark di Suvero.

During the 1960s and 1970s figurative sculpture by modernist artists in stylized forms by artists such as: Leonard Baskin, Ernest Trova, Marisol Escobar, Paul Thek and Manuel Neri became popular. In the 1980s several artists, among others, exploring figurative sculpture were Robert Graham in a classic articulated style, and Fernando Botero bringing his painting's 'oversized figures' into monumental sculptures.

Minimalism

The Minimalist style reduces sculpture to its most essential and fundamental features. Minimalists include Tony Smith, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Larry Bell, Anne Truitt, and Dan Flavin;

Site-specific movement

Site specific and environmental art works are represented by artists: Donald Judd, Richard Serra, Robert Irwin, George Rickey, and Christo and Jeanne-Claude led contemporary abstract sculpture in new directions. Artists created environmental sculpture on expansive sites in the 'land art in the American West' group of projects. These land art or 'earth art' environmental scale sculpture works exemplified by artists such as Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer, James Turrell (Roden Crater) and others

The land art (earth art) environmental scale sculpture works by Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer, James Turrell and others

Postminimalism

Artists Bill Bollinger, Eva Hesse, Sol LeWitt, Jackie Winsor, Keith Sonnier, Bruce Nauman, and Lucas Samaras, among others were pioneers of Postminimalist sculpture.The later works of Robert Graham continued evolving,often in public art settings, into the 21st century.

Also during the 1960s and 1970s artists as diverse as Stephen Antonakis, Chryssa, Walter De Maria, Dan Flavin, Robert Smithson, Robert Irwin, Claes Oldenburg, George Segal, Edward Kienholz, Duane Hanson, and John DeAndrea explored abstraction, imagery and figuration through Light sculpture, Land art, and installation art in new ways.

Readymade

The term found art — more commonly found object (French: objet trouvé) or readymade — describes art created from the undisguised, but often modified, use of objects that are not normally considered art, often because they already have a mundane, utilitarian function. Marcel Duchamp was the originator of this in the early 20th-century with pieces such as Fountain.

Conceptual Art

Conceptual art is art in which the concept(s) or idea(s) involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns. Works include One and Three Chairs, 1965, is by Joseph Kosuth, and An Oak Tree by Michael Craig-Martin.

Post-modernism

Post-modern sculpture occupies a broader field of activities than Modernist sculpture, as Rosalind Krauss has observed. Her idea of sculpture in the expanded field identified a series of oppositions that describe the various sculpture-like activities that are post-modern sculpture:

Site-Construction is the intersection of landscape and architecture
Axiomatic Structures is the combination of architecture and not-architecture
Marked sites is the combination of landscape and not-landscape
Sculpture is the intersection of not-landscape and not-architecture

Krauss' concern was creating a theoretical explanation that could adequately fit the developments of Land art, Minimalist sculpture, and Site-specific art into the category of sculpture. To do this, her explanation created a series of oppositions around the work's relationship to its environment. Template:Expand section

See also

See also




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